Lauren Fleming

Lauren Fleming


MS, Ph.D., Chemistry, UCI, 2019 expected
BA, Chemistry, The College of Wooster, 2014


Climate-relevant molecules in biomass smoke particles


Imagine sitting by a campfire. You get home from camping and your clothes STILL have that distinct smoke smell. This smell comes from gases such as the molecule guaiacol. In my research I am interested in detecting molecules in smoke particles. But instead of identifying the smelly molecules, I’m interested in the molecules that will absorb purple or blue light from the sun. Acting together, these colored molecules could significantly warm our planet. I’ve spent 5 weeks in rural Haryana, India collecting smoke samples from biomass-fueled cookstoves. Currently I’m examining smoke particles from forest fires we simulated in the lab.

Why is science communication important to you personally?

I realize that I benefit from science: medicines, agriculture, and clean air to name a few. I’d bet that you benefit from these, too. As a scientist, I want to convince you that science is awesome. But more than that, scientific research is integral to our livelihoods today, and as our society encounters new challenges in the future.